Obverse: An Uncrowned Effigy of the Sovereign.

Reverse: On the reverse is a laurel wreath, in the top centre of which is a crown. Within the area bordered by the wreath is the legend “FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE”.

Size: 37mm in diameter.

Ribbon: 32mm wide, the ribbon is dark blue with a 12mm white stripe in the centre, in the middle of which is a 1.5mm dark blue stripe.

Suspension: By means of a plain suspender bar.

Founded by King George V in October 1914 as a junior award to The Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for acts of gallantry by petty officers and below of the Navy and non-commissioned officers and men of the Royal Marines, it may also be awarded men of equivalent rank in the other services and the Merchant Navy when serving afloat. Bars may be awarded for subsequent acts and there has been one second bar awarded in 1944. Details of the recipient are recorded on the rim.

Approximately 5,500 medals were awarded in the First World War and approximately 7,700 in the Second World War.

Thirty three awards of The Distinguished Service Medal were made to members of the Royal New Zealand Navy during the Second World War, two during the Korean War and one during the Borneo confrontation.